Monday, June 14, 2010

bright kids

I've begun trying to observe a digital Sabbath, and yesterday was successful (if you don't count that tweet about Radnor Lake).

Then, the immediate and unrelenting morning heat propelled the dogs and me onto our morning walk earlier than usual today. There's no promise of relief in the forecast.

That's why I'm just now getting around to notching our weekend on the old memory-stick.

It was supposed to be sleep-away basketball camp across town for Younger Daughter all weekend, beginning Friday, but she and her roomie worked one another into a frantic case of the homesick blues. The weekend thus got off to a sleep-disrupted start for us all.

I recall my own youthful bout of homesickness at sleep-away camp. I was younger, camp was out of state. It didn't occur to me then, in the self-reliant '60s, to request a ride home.  I was age nine, it was a Southern Baptist camp in the Blue Ridge mountains of Carolina, and I toughed out three (or was it five?) long weeks of the first and worst plague of poison ivy the Lord has seen fit to visit upon me.

My faith was feeble but my endurance was impressive. I don't know if it was a growth experience, or if it planted the seed of my hostility to that denomination. Watered it, for sure, and gave me the best guilt card a kid could ever ask for. I don't think I overplayed it, through the years. But into adulthood all I ever had to do was whisper "poison ivy" and Dad (the Vet) would have a shipment of first-rate,canine-grade prednisone speeding its way to wherever I found myself afflicted-- one year it was up on Monteagle Mountain, at the sight of the famed Highlander Folk School.

But back to the weekend: Younger Daughter, to her credit, wanted to go back the next morning, and the next. Wouldn't have blamed her if she'd decided to mimic her friend and stay away for the duration, she'd already had a hard week of basketball practice with her school team and she wasn't enjoying the camp experience. But she chose to persevere, with a little help from her taxi driver. Glad to oblige.

Older Daughter had a hard week, too, volunteering with her friends the Presbyterians. They put in long hours working with disadvantaged kids, and doing hard physical work under an unrelenting sun. They spent an afternoon, for instance, cleaning up broken glass and debris on and near a playground. At week's end she mounted the pulpit to offer some very mature reflections on her experience and what it meant to her. She'd discovered a "depth" to people she'd previously misconstrued, and she came to realize that our smallest acts of kindness really do make a difference.

I'm  very proud of them both, for their commitment and perseverance and will. I don't care what the headlines say, the view from right here says the future looks bright.

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